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Revolutionary Ideas Since 1708
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Jo Livingston's research extracts
Jo ‘s research into her family history intersects with many of the political, ideological and important dates of the Meeting House’s history. Take a look at Jo ‘s fascinating records of her ancestors and learn a little more about Dissenters, religious intolerance and radical British history through her families stories. Jo has kindly allowed us to publish some extracts from her book – this week we have a piece on the Dissenters. Henry, son of Sam...
We are so excited you are looking into our volunteer opportunities! Here are some frequently asked questions that may help you: PLEASE NOTE: We are running in person recruitment from 19th July 2021, in the event of further Covid-19 restrictions, e-recruitment and e-training programmes for volunteers will be re-implemented: please see Currently Recruiting for information. Can I volunteer during the pandemic? Yes. Although you won’t be able to volu...
The Naked and The Nude: an art historian's response to Maggi Hambling's 'Statue for Mary Wollstonecraft'
For me, the naked and the nude By lexicographers construed As synonyms that should express The same deficiency of dress Or shelter stand as wide apart As love from lies, or truth from art. Robert Graves, ‘ The Naked and the Nude’, 1957 Robert Graves responding to Walter Sickert’s 1910 essay ‘The Naked and the Nude’ managed to hijack the concept for his own purposes. But they’re illuminating, and art critics like John Berger certainly knew the or...
Picturing Mary Wollstonecraft
Who was Mary Wollstonecraft? One of the best ways to find out is to look at the portraits artists have painted of her. Perhaps the most influential portrait of Mary Wollstonecraft was painted by John Opie in 1797, the last year of her life, when she was pregnant with her daughter, Mary Shelley. Opie has depicted her half turned away from him, as if engaged with her own thoughts rather than with the artist. He has not idealised her. She wears a pl...
Joseph Priestley – A Brief Introduction
The website of the Newington Green Meeting House lists one Joseph Priestley amongst the intellectual friends of the influential Richard Price: in fact, it was he who preached the sermon on the occasion of Price’s funeral, and succeeded to his ministry at the Gravel Pit Chapel. Priestley was a major figure of the British Enlightenment1 and a notable polymath… Remembered today primarily for his isolation and identification of seven gases, including...
The Revolution Controversy and the Dissenters: political debate and action in the 1790s
The Revolution Controversy was a key British political debate in the 1790s that involved several prominent figures associated with Newington Green Meeting House. The debate took place between 1789 and 1795 and was triggered by the events of the French Revolution and its consequences for British politics. It took the form of a ‘pamphlet war’, where hundreds of pamphlets- as the popular political medium of the 18 th century- were published as part...
Mary Wollstonecraft (1759-1797) was a writer, philosopher and feminist thinker. She is perhaps best known for writing A Vindication of the Rights of Woman (1792), considered a key early feminist work. Wollstonecraft is one of the most notable figures associated with Newington Green Meeting House , as living and working in the local area gave her connections to members of the meeting house, such as Richard Price. Although there have been ongoing e...
John Polidari and the Vampires
...David Walter I loved this article, it's very informative and it was fun and engaging to read. I never knew how connected to the contribution of world culture, Newington Green Unitarian Church has been....
John Howard and Prison Reform
What should change to the criminal justice system look like now? John Howard (1726-1790) was a prominent 18th century intellectual and prison reform campaigner. (refer to figure one) His connection to Newington Green Meeting House stems from his friendships with Richard Price, whom he lived close to when he lived in Bedford, and John Aikin, the brother of Anna Laetitia Barbauld. Although, Anna Laetitia was engaged to someone else Howard still pro...
The recent controversy over the Mary Wollstonecraft memorial on Newington Green calls to mind another, less controversial, monument erected in London to commemorate a progressively minded woman but, instead of depicting her, the monument featured a partly unclothed fictional woman. The Shepherdess , also known as The Goatherd’s Daughter by Charles Leonard Hartwell was unveiled in 1929 and now stands in Regents Park. The statue was commissioned to...
Mary Wollstonecraft's birthday – a week of celebration, 25th April - 2nd May
We’ve been busy planning Mary Wollstonecraft’s birthday event this year – but one day didn’t seem enough to mark the 262nd birthday of the mother of feminism. That’s why this year you’re invited to a whole week’s worth of talks, events, concerts and activities to celebrate Mary and her legacy today. You only need to book once to get access to the full week’s worth of events – and you can choose which ones you’d like to attend. Here’s just a taste...
William Ellery Channing and Matilda Sharpe’s Girls’ School
Matilda Sharpe (1830-1916) William Ellery Channing (1780-1842) Matilda Sharpe (1830-1916) William Ellery Channing (1780-1842) Matilda Sharpe was a member of the congregation of the Unitarian Chapel on Newington Green. She was also the founder of Channing School for girls in Highgate in 1885. She named the school after William Ellery Channing, a New England Unitarian preacher whose writings on education had inspired her. Channing had what we would...
Andrew Pritchard and Infusoria
Have you ever wondered what the ‘Infusoria’ are? Maybe you have also wondered how Andrew Pritchard, a man so beautifully commemorated in this plaque on the wall of the Meeting House, was and why he wrote of their History? (refer to Figure one) The term itself – Infusoria – is now obsolete but its use is first dated back to 1763. Therefore, its history is firmly rooted in the early days of both microscopy and taxonomy, the discipline of naming, de...
Anna Barbauld's Blue Stockings
Among Newington Green’s radicals, Anna Barbauld remains in the shadow of the much better known Mary Wollstonecraft . However Barbauld’s radicalism was no less passionate and her many contributions to changing the world for the better deserve wider acknowledgement. Noted as a feminist, abolitionist, writer, poet, educator and critic, one further aspect of these contributions was Anna’s membership of the Blue Stocking Society . The term ‘blue stock...
Before the Vote
Hackney’s early feminists on Education, Social Reform and the Right to Vote From fighting for equal access to education to the right to vote, Hackney’s women battled to ensure the future female generations of East London had access to the opportunities they were not granted. This blog will provide a broad outline of the stories and movements of Hackney’s feminists from the 1600s to the beginning of the 1900s and how their revolutionary ideas and...
Charles Bradlaugh: Freethinker, Activist, Republican
Born in Hoxton, on 26th September 1833, Charles Bradlaugh was an atheist, supporter of universal suffrage, a secularist, promoter of trade unions and a political activist. As president of the National Secular Society and editor of the secularist paper, the National Reformer, Bradlaugh promoted and gained supporters of his view that religion should be separated from the state. In 1876, Bradlaugh and his close confidant Annie Besant, a women’s righ...
The story of Matilda Sharpe
Courtesy of Channing School Archive I know about Matilda Sharpe because she was the woman who, along with her sister Emily, founded Channing School in Highgate where I taught for 16 happy years. The school was originally intended for the daughters of Unitarian ministers but is now open to girls from every religion or none. There were still echoes of Matilda Sharpe around the school when I worked there. For instance, her aspirational motto (also...
PLEASE NOTE: We are running in person recruitment from 19th July 2021, in the event of further Covid-19 restrictions, e-recruitment and e-training programmes for volunteers will be re-implemented. We are thrilled to finally be open to the public again. Making history in your spare time couldn’t be easier… Are you looking to be part of a fun and friendly team, grow your skills and be a change-maker? Have internet, a computer and able to volunteer-...
We aim to make this website accessible to everyone. Below we describe the standards and techniques we have used to achieve this. If you have any questions or suggestions or problems regarding the accessibility of this website, please do not hesitate to contact us. We hope to continually improve the use of the site for all of our visitors. The website is constantly evolving, and will be considerably expanded and refined in the coming years. Transl...
Dissenting Academies and the Green
Please select the link for an audio version: https://soundcloud.com/amy-todd-813925058/dissenting-academies-on-newington-green Dissenting academies were founded in the second half of the 17 th century as a response to the passing of the ‘Act of Uniformity’ (1662), that required Anglican ordination for all clergy. Ministers of the church who disagreed with the tenets of Anglicanism were debarred from the clergy and consequently many found themselv...
Anna Laetitia Barbauld in Stoke Newington
Anna Laetitia Barbauld (1743-1825) is remembered chiefly as a ‘poet and writer’. Her output covered a wide range of literary forms: she wrote essays, poems, edited works of fiction, produced literary criticism and wrote poems for children. (1) Some of her best know works were inspired by progressive causes, such as her “Epistle to William Wilberforce, esq. … on the Rejection of the Bill for Abolishing the Slave Trade.” In which she castigated the...
Celebrating Mary's Birthday - Monday 27th April
Now the celebrations are over (and what a day it was!) this page holds all the resources and materials you can use to learn more about Mary, Newington Green and the Dissenters all year round. We are still celebrating Mary’s birthday this year, although as you may have seen we will be postponing the Mary Wollstonecraft and Dissent: A Celebration event at the Newington Green Meeting House until April 2021. This year we will be celebrating online an...
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